Lautoka, Fiji – The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has announced the award of a $350,000 (FJ$ 733,000) grant to the University of Fiji to support food security and develop alternative sustainable livelihoods in two rural communities in Fiji’s Western Division.
Through USAID’s five-year grant-making facility, the Pacific American Fund, this award will enable the University of Fiji to revive the aquaculture production of Tilapia in Vitawa and Mallau in Rakiraki and provide support through aquaculture and entrepreneurial trainings for targeted beneficiaries. To date, the U.S. government, through USAID, has provided nearly 44 million dollars to assist Pacific Islands countries, including Fiji, to combat COVID-19 and to protect the health and livelihoods of communities in the region. This grant to the University of the Fiji is just one part of the U.S. government’s commitment to support Fiji to manage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The U.S. Government supports local initiatives such as this that will allow communities to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic,” USAID Pacific Island Acting Senior Development Advisor Patrick Bowers said when launching the project. “We remain committed to assisting the most vulnerable members of all communities in Fiji to ensure everyone has equal access to services during the pandemic and future emergencies.
The COVID-19 outbreak in Fiji resulted in unexpected job losses prompting reverse migration of people back to their communities of origin, adding pressure to the frail food security and economic systems in these areas. Through this grant, the University of the Fiji and its implementation partner, the Pacific Islands Development Forum, will be able to promote food security and increase self-sufficiency, primarily for women and other marginalized groups in these localities.
“This funding will be very useful in enabling these communities to recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will have a specific focus on assisting women,” said Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shaista Shameen. “We see this support bringing a whole new avenue of food security and income to the selected communities, and eventually other parts of Fiji.”
Launched in 2020 and based in Suva, Fiji, the Pacific American Fund awards grants on an open and competitive basis to address a wide range of development priorities in the Pacific region. Grants are targeted towards qualifying local, national, and internationally operating civil society organizations, including non-governmental organizations and institutions, private small and medium enterprises, universities, and faith-based organizations.